Dear Seva Canada Supporters,
Dignity, while universally perceived and recognized, manifests differently across cultures, through their social structures and beliefs.
To achieve development with dignity, Seva Canada began by learning from local partners what their population needed and what was a culturally appropriate means of meeting those needs.
The next, and overwhelmingly most important step in developing dignity, has been providing partners with the capacity to meet those population needs, at a level recognized for its excellence, and that is provided appropriately and equitably. Our unstated, but underlying mantra has always been: to make our partners leaders and ourselves unknown.
Development with dignity required the funding and expertise that Seva Canada provides. It required equipping hospitals, training personnel and funding programs and services. These were important steps in the journey but the real end was creating leadership in the institutions, financial autonomy, and equity in service delivery. From all of this comes dignity, when partners meet as colleagues and friends. These relationships are the ones that have endured for almost 40 years, so far, sometimes long after the need for Seva's funding has passed.
"Dignity is a word that overturns traditional assumptions about north and south, developed and developing. While charity is bestowed by the haves to the have-nots, dignity does not work like that at all. If I fail to treat someone with dignity, it is me, not them, who is undignified." -Jonathan Glennie
In an article in the Guardian, author Jonathan Glennie writes that: "Dignity is a word that overturns traditional assumptions about north and south, developed and developing. While charity is bestowed by the haves to the have-nots, dignity does not work like that at all. If I fail to treat someone with dignity, it is me, not them, who is undignified."
If we put dignity front and centre then we also need to stop using terms like 'developed' and 'developing' which are a hold-over from an era long past. As of July 1st, Seva Canada's mission statement was revised to read:
"Seva Canadas mission is to restore sight and prevent blindness in low- and middle-income countries."